Time once was that you judged a car’s capability partly by the number of gauges it sported on the dashboard. Only a speedo? Shopping car. Rev counter? Getting warm. Add a trio of water, oil and battery condition and you were starting to cook with gas. More than that well you were definitely sitting behind the wheel of something serious.
Take Aston Martin. Here you see a good example of a serious analogue dash on the DB5. Seven dials in total, not including the clock. Lovely stuff and obviously a car with serious intent.
Then along came the digital revolution and things went a bit strange, not to say downright weird. And unreliable. The Aston Martin Lagonda was possibly the first to not just to dip a toe in digital, but rather dive headlong. The results were such that for the life of the car they tried desperately to simplify things. Bearing in mind how many they made just 645 in the course of the Lagondas thirteen production run, its no wonder Aston at the time was a company running out of time.
Some more humble manufacturers also bit the digital bullet, not surprisingly from the Far East. The dashboard of the Subaru XT Coupe gave another taste of things to come. The steering wheel was pretty funky too.
As was the Mazda 626. The great thing was with these cars that they actually tried to rethink dashboard information and make it simpler and more legible, and while not as sexy as a needle rolling round a dial, they certainly managed the information well.
Around the same time Citroen was trying to regain it’s DS mojo with the CX. Now though not strictly a digital dash, it was a sort of hybrid of the time with the revolving drum effect on its speedo and rev counter. Not good if you were prone to dizzy spells…
A little while later Citroen properly went the whole nine yards with the BX and created this digital extravaganza.
The Italians not to be left behind let Lancia lead the way in digital and they certainly didn’t hold back with a series of dashes in their concept cars that would have put Blackpool to shame. Check out the Orca!
Stateside they weren’t going to be left out either with quite a few digidashes making their way onto the production line. In the late eighties the Corvette boasted this more practical solution.
Of course today digital displays have become pretty much the thing. But the interesting point is that in general, rather than taking the bold steps they had the eighties and nineties, they’ve got a lot less imaginative in their graphics. In fact the Ferrari La Ferrari in race mode looks not too dissimilar to the Mazda display above!
But maybe one manufacturer above all has really nailed the digital display and taken it to the the limit. It you’re lucky enough to sit behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Reventon, then this completely unfathomable display is what will greet you!
Honestly officer I thought I was only doing around thirty but I couldn’t find the speedo to check…